Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Would like to meet

Now envy isn’t the nicest of emotions, but I am willing to admit to being be a tad envious of Stonehead this week, he’s not had such a good run of things of late, what with his teeth an’ all, but this week he’s had a bit of a treat, (well it would be for me) the Stonehead croft is to feature in an article about smallholding’s, in the Observer newspaper, it’s not the article that has brought out the green eyed monster in me , what I know about running a smallholding, would just about fill a post card not a magazine article, no, it’s the fact that the photographs to accompany the article are to be taken by Murdo McLeod

I have been ‘Murdo spotting’ as it’s become know in this house, for the best part of two decades, he is my favourite photo journalist, my appreciation of his work all started way back, when Mr Uhdd and I lived in Scotland, I had a daily commute, to Edinburgh, on the outward journey I read the Guardian, on my return Journey it was the Scotsman newspaper ( it was particularly important not to fall asleep on the way home, or I would end up in Inverness, which was along way from our home.)

Never since have I managed to read two newspapers a day, but even when work and family commitments have curtailed my reading, I’ve usually managed a quick glance at the pictures (I’m a visual sort of gal) and I can spot a Murdo from a good distance, it’s the way they are lit and composed not to mention the landscape that the majority are taken in.  Mr Uhdd and I have often debated, would Scottish news items get as many column inches if it were not for the imagery of Murdo McLeod, which came first the chicken or the egg? I usually cut and paste images from the Internet with gay abandon, but such is my respect for this mans work, that I couldn’t possible reproduce his work with out permission, so if you are at all interested, you will have to go and look for yourself.

My three favourite

Drugs users in Glasgow, arresting, powerful edgy

Reportage on the foot and mouth outbreak 2001, harrowing, sad, angry

Roy Keane and the ravens skull, simply a hypnotic photograph.

I would love to spend a day just watching how he does it;  so who  dear reader would you like to meet, past or present, one person who you would want to see at their work, do please tell.


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Evicted

The ‘Gang of Seven’ sheep are out of our field and garden and they staying out.

We have had enough of them, and as Stony said, we could get DEFRA involved to find out who owns them, they are double tagged, but first you would have to catch them, as you can see they ready for a stand off, we are just not set up for catching hold of sheep with attitude.

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So we’ve herded them out and closed the gate, I think they are from the other side of the hill, but the grazing is scant that way, so at the top of the lane they turned  right into business class, not left into economy

I did feel a little ‘sheepish’ and guilty though, as I drove to work yesterday morning, they were just trotting down the drive to the ‘big house’ the gardens down there are for more precious than ours. I often find myself drawn in to local ‘stop it’ ‘save it’, ‘find it’ campaigns (and you would hope by now the owner of these errant sheep, would have noticed they were missing)  but to be honest I haven’t the energy for this one, again. This year some one else can sort it; I’m off out, closing the gate behind me.


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Go home, you’re not welcome here

Gates slam shut, the rolls of chestnut paling are out, its that time of year; when the grazing gets scarce and the most determined sheep make a break for it, having more reason than most to believe  that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.’

Each year there is a mini flock of  three or four sheep that roam the area, like a street gang, wrecking gardens turning over flower pots, storming through hedges and pulling down walls. They always have a leader, a dodgy looking character who can scramble over walls and roll across cattle grids, taking it’s gang of wannabe’s with them. Who owns them we can never find out, as at this time of the year, a lot of grazing land is sub-let, this motley bunch, have been marked by raddle from the tup, but that’s the only marks they are showing, they are in need of an ASBO or a lift to the slaughter house, we don’t mind which and its worse than ever this year, not only are we are plagued by this rag tag group of four, there is an additional gang of seven who at present are holed up in our field.

unwanted sheep

We just keep moving them on, sending over the hill, but they will be back,


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Hobbled by Foot and Mouth

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The farming communities daily activities continue to hobbled by the foot and mouth outbreak.

Praise be that the disease is not leaching its way across the country, but never the less it is costing businesses money and angst, people are on stand by, waiting in case it all kicks off, and ‘precautions’ are in place, we called at the agricultural merchants the other day day for hen food, (avatars need feeding!) we drove in and out through a bath disinfected straw and one of our nearby farmers is struggling with a calf, born last weekend it is ‘failing to thrive’ not all cows are ‘good mothers’ and the mother of this calf refuses to let the calf suckle.

In normal circumstance he would get them out of the field, loaded into a trailer and get them back to the farm, (3 miles away) where he can put them in a pen, keep a watchful eye on them. He may need to bottle feed the calf if the cow doesn’t shape up. As it is at the moment, the calf’s condition is going down hill and there is very little other than worry that he can do about it. With them out in the field he has no hope of any intervention. He is not allowed to move them back to the farm because of the restrictions on the transportation of livestock that are still in place

I am puzzled why as a meat eating country girl I find the images of the cattle slaughtered because of the foot and mouth outbreak, being tipped into trucks, so disturbing. Maybe it is to do with the ‘waste.’ I am not squeamish about the slaughter of animals for food, if you want meat, then the dead needs to be done, but I don’t want it to close up and personal. When I had my business one of our best customers was a slaughter house, the office manager ‘minded’ her slaughter-men well, making sure of their domestic welfare by ordering bouquets flowers for their wives, partners and girlfriends on their behalf, for birthdays anniversaries and the odd domestic bust up (and deducting the cost from their pay!)

On one of my ‘get to know your customers better’ forays I called at the slaughter house with a complimentary bunch of flowers for the manager, (Lucy my manager said there was ‘no way’ she was going, because ‘I’m a vegetarian’) tapping at the ‘reception’ window in the yard, I was given directions and told to go up to her office, off I went through the flappy plastic double doors, down tiled corridors past suspended conveyors of hooks, take a left turn then a right then up the stairs, second door on the left. (let me tell you, slaughter houses have a very distinct smell, that of a ‘real butchers shop’ but in perfume form rather than ‘eau de toilet’)

I was terrified I wouldn’t remember the sequence of directions (its a dyslexic difficulty that I have) and that I would take a wrong turn and find my self face to face with a recently slaughtered cow. When I found the office the manager reassured me that ‘the action’ took place at the other end of the complex; the flowers were gratefully received, we had a cup of tea and a chat, as I got up to leave , she asked ‘Now you know the way out, don’t you?’ Carefully I retraced my steps.


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Best In Show

Last week the farming community were enjoying Bakewell show in Derbyshire, foot and mouth was not on the agenda.

I love agricultural shows, they have their roots the basic premise of ‘my cow is better than your cow.’ Whilst the atmosphere is one of all the ‘fun of the fair’, there is an underlying current of competitiveness. These photographs were taken last Thursday, because of the restrictions on the movement of animals as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak, shows taking place this week across the country will be a shadow of what they should be

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This six week old calf would be back at the farm, it is ironic in the circumstances that I took the next photo because I thought that it had dainty little feetDainty Feet

As well as the competitions, you can buy just about anything and everything at a show, it’s a giant market, does your dog need a reflective sun tabard?

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Or are you looking for a ball of string or some sweets?

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But it is the diverse mix of people that you can see, (I’ve always been an avid people watcher) that is the cherry on the tart for me (yes I know ‘true’ ‘Bakewell Tarts’ don’t have cherries on.)

Hat Man

Be it horses, steam engines, cheese, poultry or live stock that is their thing, they are passionate about it.

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Here they are preparing the rabbit class for judging, the young man on the left has just been bitten by his rabbit!

Rabbit Prep

Some of the competitors just know instinctively how to strut their stuff.

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But beauty is often in the eye of the beholder

Ugly Dog

And there can be a lot of hanging around

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waiting,

Shire Horse Waiting

for your time to shine in the ring.

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There is a lot of kudos attached to being a judge, and hats for judges are very important,

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Getting your hands on one of these is what it is about,

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And it is a very serious business

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I like to look back stage, where you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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Hours of work goes in to preening and prepping the animalsIMG_0432_1

I love this stained glass, by Hazel Crowe

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And of course you are never going to keep me out of the flower marquees, (no matter how hard my children try!)

Cerise Dahlia

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Shows are fun

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And exhausting

Bored Boys

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